Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Palestine Tomb Reveals Earliest Known Use of Vanilla

Palestine Tomb Reveals Earliest Known Use of Vanilla

Wednesday, 21 November, 2018 - 07:00
University of Wageningen researcher Filip van Noort and vanilla grower Joris Elstgeest inspect vanilla orchids, part of four years of ground-breaking research (AFP Photo/Maude Brulard)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Scientists have found the earliest known use of vanilla in a tomb in Palestine that is around 3,600 years old, contradicting the belief that the world's second most expensive spice was first used in Mexico around 1,000 years ago.

Jugs found in a Bronze Age site in Megiddo have two major chemicals found in vanilla extract - vanillin and 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde.

“Bronze Age people at Megiddo may have used vanillin-infused oils as additives for foods and medicines, for ritual purposes or possibly even in the embalming of the dead,” scientists said.

Their findings have been presented at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) in Denver, United States.

“It's really not surprising that vanillin reached Bronze Age Megiddo given all the trade that occurred between the [Middle East] and South Asia,” archaeologist Eric Cline of George Washington University in Washington said.

The vanillin-containing jugs at Megiddo came from a tomb of three “highly elite” individuals who were interred with six other people of lesser social rank, said archaeologist Melissa Cradic of the University of California, Berkeley, a member of the current Megiddo research team.

Editor Picks